What to do in Malaga: spend a weekend in Spain’s cultural hub

Move over Barcelona, there is a new cultural city taking Spain by storm. Pack your bags, it’s time to explore Malaga

If you are tired of battling through crowds in Barcelona and are looking for a weekend getaway somewhere warm, then head to Spain’s sixth largest city. Malaga is most commonly known as the transport hub for the Costa del Sol. However, if you choose to venture further than the arrivals gate you will discover that this city is a world-class destination in its own right. Short on time but desperate to explore? No problem! While Malaga is bursting with things to see and do, it is possible to enjoy the highlights in 48 hours. Let the Andalusian charm wash over you as you visit the birthplace of Picasso, savour the freshest seafood from local markets and go back in time with a trip to the Alcazaba. Not sure where to begin? Discover our weekend itinerary of what to do in Malaga.

When to book city breaks - Malaga?

48 hours may not sound like a lot of time, but you will be surprised by the amount that can be packed into your weekend in Malaga. But, to ensure that you see the city at its finest it is important to choose your dates carefully. If you like the sun, the best time to enjoy the city and its coastline is during the months of June until September. 

If you like the sun, the best time to enjoy the city and its coastline is during the months of June until September

In this timeframe, you can expect highs of 31ºC and water temperatures of 24ºC - ideal for snorkelling. However, if you can escape the high season then the ideal time to visit the city is in April or May or October when the temperatures remain warm. Still, the crowds have moved on allowing you to plan what to do in Malaga and experience the city like a true local. 

What to do in Malaga: Visit the Picasso Museum

What to do in Malaga: Day 1:

To experience the best of the city, it is worth checking into one of the inner city hotels so that you are only a hop, a skip and a jump away from the action. Start your short break in Malaga in the Plaza de la Merced and enjoy a typical Spanish breakfast of coffee with a jamón serrano and tomato stuffed bread roll. Watch the world go by before heading around the corner to the Palacio de Buenavista, Picasso’s birthplace and a now beautifully renovated museum complete with Phoenician ruins from the 8th century B.C. If get struck by the art buzz, it is worth noting that Malaga is also home to the Contemporary Art Centre, the Pompidou Centre and the Tita Thyssen Museum will allow visitors to view the best works of art representing a range of different movements, including expressionism and avant-garde art. So, you can be sure that during the next 48 hours you will never be unsure of what to do in Malaga.

Day 1: Malaga - what to visit

After exploring the city’s Phoenician origins at the Picasso Museum, fast forward to when Malaga was under Moorish rule. The Alcazaba is a must-see when Malaga sightseeing. It is an old military fortress that has been immaculately preserved to offer a glimpse of what life was like during this pivotal time in Andalusia’s history. Walk through the aromatic gardens or admire the intricate mosaics on display at every corner.

Malaga is a melting pot of cultures and this can be felt in the local cuisine

Malaga is a melting pot of cultures and this can be felt in the local cuisine. Recharge your batteries with a trip to the Mercado de Atarazanas, a 19th-century food hall. It has become a hot spot for foodies and the seafood paella and the conchas finas (garlic clams) are Malagueño delicacies that are not to be missed. 

Day 1: Don’t forget to pick up souvenirs!

Wind down the day’s adventures with a spot of retail therapy. After visiting Malaga's most picturesque locations, head towards the capital's main leisure and shopping area. On Calle Larios, visitors can find everything they are looking for: from the country's largest retail chains to the city's most traditional shops. To end the day, take a stroll along La Malagueta and its adjacent streets while enjoying Malaga's beautiful sunsets. The traditional restaurants and beach bars in this coastal district would make a great choice for all visitors enjoying a long weekend in Malaga.

Day 1: Your Malaga itinerary evening plans - sorted!

A dinner for two at the stylish Gastrobar Santa Maria will put the perfect finishing touch to a long day of sightseeing. This dining spot has become a foodie Mecca over the years thanks to its innovative globetrotting tapas concept. Here guests can travel through the dizzying delights of the New World through an array of deliciously designed tapas plates, all of which are sure to please. The bar is also perfectly located for those enjoying only two days in Malaga as it is within reach of the María Zambrano train station, with high-speed trains, and very close to the city centre and the beach.

 What to do in Malaga: Eat at Barceló Malaga's Gastrobar Santa María

What to do in Malaga in 2 days: Your plan for day 2

If the previous evening ended late, make the most of the day by enjoying brunch at the trendy venues located in Malaga's Soho district, the part of the city where culture, trends and the finest cuisine come together. This central district has become the first choice for residents and tourists looking for what to do in Malaga thanks to its diverse leisure offerings. But of course, no Malaga 48 hours- getaway is complete without a trip to the cathedral. 

But of course, no Malaga 48 hours- getaway is complete without a trip to the cathedral

This is one of the must-see Malaga tourist attractions and it is given the name La Manquita (the one-armed lady) by locals thanks to its dramatic appearance. Marvel at the Gothic architecture and soak up the grand interiors and you can even participate in a tour of the cathedral which will take you to the rooftop - an ideal vantage point to see Malaga from above.

Plan a Sightseeing tour of Malaga and its markets for day 2

If you happen to be looking for what to do in Malaga on a Sunday, just do as the locals do. In Malaga, Sundays are made for strolling. Head to the port to explore the city’s vibrant street markets. The port is a great place to view Malaga’s impressive coastline, overlooked by the Montes de Malaga mountainside. Stock up on last-minute souvenirs for friends and family or simply enjoy sampling local delicacies such as the Tarta Malagueña spiced fruit cake or freshly harvested honey from the Andalusian hillside. 

Day 2: Don’t leave without a trip to the beach!

When planning what to do in Malaga, a trip to the Playa de la Malagueta beach is a strong Sunday plan. This dark stretch of coastline comes alive with locals getting out into nature for a stroll or swim. This urban beach is located moments away from the port and a 10-minute leisurely walk from the city centre. This beach is the image of city breaks in Malaga and the dark golden sand and moderate waves make it an inviting place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. If you find yourself getting peckish, hunt down one of the many fishing boats on the beach and order espeto - grilled sardines with a generous helping of sea salt. Enjoy your last moments in the city before returning home or, if you have been bitten by the travel bug, plan some day trips from Malaga to continue your adventure. 

What to do in Malaga: Playa La Malagueta